One of the many benefits of working in the upper elementary grades is that you can do some really cool projects because the kids have developed critical thinking skills and most have a good grasp on logic, cause and effect. Some of the amazing things we have done this year include:
Creating a door decoration that was based on a book for Children's Book Week. My class voted on books and chose "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid." They made the door decoration into a Pacman game with the Pacman as Greg, the antagonists as the ghost guys and the other protagonists as safe places on the game board for Greg to get to. I loved their ideas and the fact that they came up with it by themselves! The art wasn't excellent, but we worked with what we had. ;)
An awesome Science Fair with some great experiments including:
1)How does the color of food affect a person's choice of that food, (girls generally chose pink or purple tinted icing, boys- blue or green.)
2)Which gender can average more push ups in a minute, male or female? (male)
3)Will an older parrot or a younger parrot learn a phrase quicker? (Older in this experiment.)
4)Does the brand of balloon affect the amount of static electricity produced?
While studying integers, we made cartoons explaining absolute value. My kids came up with some interesting things! So far it has worked to keep it stuck in their heads that the absolute value sign means the distance from zero, so it's not negative!
We created a movie utilizing the archetypal patterns of a hero in which my kids came up with a spin-off of the Harry Potter characters: Hairy Potter was the hero, Bald-e-mort was the villain, Dumbledora was the guide, just to name a few. Just the fact that they felt comfortable enough with English to be making puns made up for any of the cheesiness in my opinion. Each section of 5th grade had their own version of a hero archetype based movie. We created a script and recorded the movie and at the end we presented it as a huge 5th grade premiere and invited the principals. They had a lot of fun and really put their spoken English to the test. They also get an awesome keepsake for this year!
We have done a lot of really interesting Science experiments, but one of the prettiest was the "Convection Currents" one. We set up a clear aquarium on wooden blocks with room temperature water. Then, a quarter-sized dot of red dye was injected onto the bottom of one side. A cup of boiling water was placed under the red dye. On the opposite end, we placed a very blue-tinted ice cube. The ice cube represented one of the poles and the hot water represented the equator. The hot, red water rose and moved toward the cold area, while the cold, blue water sank and went towards the warm. This created an amazing visual with swirling red and blue.
Coming up next are some great persuasive topics in our Language debate unit. We plan on getting each section to debate within their classroom and have a winner who will compete against the debate teams who win in each section. They have to use good debate etiquette, such as showing the opponent respect by calling them the "honorable opposition." We have practiced with some fun, but easy topics such as "which is better, chocolate or vanilla?" and they have to come up with arguments for both sides. I feel like a good set of debate skills will prepare them for the future. They need to know where they stand on issues and how to defend their stance! The kids are really getting into this and showing good use of logical reasoning, persuasion and passion! In English! Any second-language learner knows that it's harder to use a second language about something you feel passionately about and are trying to persuade someone with... I love it when they get excited about what they are learning and really get involved!
I truly believe that I am teaching Guatemala's future leaders and I can't wait to see what these kids do with their lives!